Jar (stamnos)

Greek, South Italian
Classical Period
about 400–390 B.C.
The Ariadne Painter

Place of Manufacture: Italy, Apulia

Catalogue Raisonné

Vase-Painting in Italy (MFA), no. 008.


Height: 30 cm (11 13/16 in.); diameter (body just above handles): 25.6 cm (10 1/16 in.); diameter (foot): 15.7 cm (6 3/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Ceramic, Red Figure

On View

Ancient Greece: Greek Theater Gallery (Gallery 215C)


Europe, The Ancient World



Side A: Theseus abandons Ariadne; Athena, Hypnos.
Side B: Bellerophon, Pegasos, Proitos, Stheneboea.

Attributed to the Ariadne Painter
about 400-390 B.C.
A: Theseus is abandoning Ariadne, who sleeps on a low couch decorated with battlements and zigzags and having a striped pillow at one end. There is no indication of landscape. She wears white bracelets and a himation, which has fallen around her waist to leave her torso nude. Athena is seated above, her spear in her right hand. She wears a chiton, himation, scaly aegis with gorgoneion and snakes, bracelets, earrings, a necklace, and a sphendone. The winged boy with a white fillet standing at the right is Hypnos, who drops poppies (?) on Ariadne’s head from a phiale held in his left hand. Theseus moves rapidly to the left, his nude body turned frontally and his face in three-quarter view. His hair is blown back in a leonine mane of wavy locks. A cloak hangs over his shoulders. He is moving toward the stern of his ship, which is decorated with battlements, zigzags, and fluttering fillets.
B: The departure of Bellerophon. He stands at the right, beside Pegasus, wearing a chlamys pinned at the throat and holding a pair of spears in his left hand. Pegasus stamps the ground in anticipation of departure; white dots fleck his bridle. Proitos, himation about his waist, stands to the right, holding a scepter with a finial in the form of a bird in his left hand. He has just handed to Bellerophon the letter for King lobates of Lycia asking him to kill the young hero. At the left, Stheneboea (or Anteia) stands in the door of the palace, the porch supported by Ionic columns, the pediment containing a white and yellow palmette and supporting three palmette akroteria. She wears a chiton, himation, necklace, and white bracelets and earrings. With her right hand she plucks up her chiton, and with her left touches her husband, encouraging him to rid her of the youth who spurned her advances.
There are enclosed palmettes linked by tendrils around and under the handles. Bands of dotted egg-pattern circle the lower molding of the mouth, the base of the handles, and (in a double band) the shoulder below the neck. The groundline consists of groups of linked maeanders to left alternating with saltire-squares.
When purchased, the vase had as a “lid” an Attic black-glazed fish-plate (00.349b), which may have been found with it.
For Ariadne abandoned by Theseus, see W.A. Daszewski, LIMC, III, 1, pp. 1057-1060; and F. Brommer, “Theseus: Die Täten des griechischen Helden in der antiken Kunst und Literatur” (Darmstadt, 1982), pp. 86-92. Earlier Attic representations also show Hypnos by Ariadne’s head (Beazley, ARV (footnote 2), p. 405, 1 and p. 560, 5; LIMC, iii, 1, p. 1057, nos. 54-53; iii, 2, pl. 730). The motif of the ship’s stern is repeated on a calyx-krater connected with the Painter of the Birth of Dionysos, another follower of the Sisyphus Painter (Taranto 52230: RVAp, I, p. 39, no. 2/25, pl. 12,2). The ship was also depicted in a wall-painting of the subject seen by Pausanias in the sanctuary of Dionysos Eleutherios in Athens (Paus. 1.20.3), but only the Taranto krater follows the mral in having Dionysos already present before Theseus has fully departed. Trendall and Webster, speculating that the Boston and Taranto scenes may have been inspired by Euripides” THESEUS, suggest that the Theseus on the Boston stamnos may be starting back at the sight of the approaching Dionysos,
whose arrival is imminent though undepicted; see Trendall and Webster, “Illustrations”, p. 105; and RVAp, I, p. 41.
For Bellerophon, see F. Brommer, MarbWPr 1952/1954, pp. 3-16; K. Schauenburg, Jdl 71 (1956), pp. 59-96; and AA 1958, cols. 21-37; compare also cat. no. 27. Very similar representations of Bellerophon delivering the letter to lobates are distinguished from scenes with Proitos by the Oriental garb of the Lycian monarch, for example, a calyx-krater by the Darius Painter in the Zewadski collection, on loan to the Tampa Museum of Art (W.K. Zewadski, “Ancient Green Vases from South Italy in Tampa Bay Collections” [Tampa, 1985], no. 8, illus.; RVAp, Suppl. II, p. 151, no. 18/65d). In Homer, the wife of Proitos is Anteia (Il.6.155ff.), in later accounts, Stheneboea. The scene on the Boston stamnos could have been inspired by Euripides’ lost play “Stheneboia”; see Trendall and Webster, “Illustrations”, pp. 102-103.
A follower of the Sisyphus Painter, the Ariadne Painter was active in the first decade or so of the fourth century. He returned to the myth of Bellerophon on a column-krater in Ruvo (inv. 1091; RVAp, I, pp. 24-25, no. 1/107; Trendall, “Handbook”, fig. 46), with the hero and Pegasus attacking the Chimaera.


By 1900: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: from Gela); purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren, February 1900

Credit Line

Henry Lillie Pierce Fund